The Correlation Between IQ and Atheism

Times High­er Edu­ca­tion reports that there is a strong cor­rel­a­tion between a high IQ and a lack of reli­gious belief, accord­ing to Richard Lynn, the con­tro­ver­sial psy­cho­lo­gist.

In the past Lynn has per­formed research into what he believes is the exist­ence of race and sex dif­fer­ences in intel­li­gence, and has called for the “phas­ing out” of what he calls “incom­pet­ent cul­tures”. Con­tro­ver­sial indeed!

Of course, cor­rel­a­tion does not equal caus­a­tion, but it’s inter­est­ing non­ethe­less and the art­icle itself con­tains some inter­est­ing com­ments from noted aca­dem­ics.

via Mind Hacks

5 thoughts on “The Correlation Between IQ and Atheism

  1. Samuel Skinner

    Well, it is obvi­ous that there is a dif­fer­ance in the IQ scores- blacks score lower because they are poorer, for­eign­ers score lower because they aren’t famil­i­ar with the ques­tions, etc.

    How­ever, in this case the link is so obvi­ous it is almost not worth men­tion­ing- it isn’t that athe­ism gets the smarter people, it is that athe­ism is pos­it­ively linked with edu­ca­tion- the more edu­ca­tion, the more likely you are to be an unbe­liev­er.

    So, switch­ing to athe­ism won’t make you smarter (although it will make you more accur­ate)- going to col­lege will make you more likely to be an athe­ist- this isn’t news by the way, church author­it­ies have known this for cen­tur­ies.

  2. Lone Gunman Post author

    Do blacks really score lower because they are poorer? Or due to actu­al bio­lo­gic­al dif­fer­ence? For­eign­ers because of unfa­mil­i­ar ques­tion­ing?

    I’m inclined to agree with the likes of Montagu and Graves who say that race is a purely social con­struct, there­fore even apply­ing this kind of cor­rel­a­tion is use­less. Selec­tion bias might play a large part here, too.

    Regard­ing IQ and athe­ism: I totally agree with you. It’s inferred due to the cor­rel­a­tions between IQ and high­er edu­ca­tion, and between high­er edu­ca­tion and athe­ism. Remem­ber­ing all the while, of course, that cor­rel­a­tion does not equal caus­a­tion.

    Thanks for the com­ment – much appre­ci­ated.

  3. moises

    the more “edu­cated” one is and the more big words he or she may know and the more degrees and dip­lo­mas hanging on his or her wall makes it more likely that the per­son is full of pride. the intel­lec­tu­als, the intel­li­gent­sia, and the élite, yes the élite look down at the uneducated and simple people. But by look­ing down all the time one can not look up to see God. Pride the biggest of the sev­en sins.

  4. Lloyd Morgan Post author

    Moises, I dir­ect you to anoth­er post on my site, How to Dis­agree. While you’re there, pay atten­tion to DH0 and DH1.

    Next time you com­ment, please con­struct an argu­ment based on more than empty ad hom­inem attacks.

    I have the fol­low­ing issues with your response:

    • Pride can be a vir­tue as well as a vice.
    • Edu­ca­tion­al abil­ity does not imply pride, nor is it cor­rel­ated.
    • To sug­gest that well-edu­cated people ‘look down’ on the uneducated is quite a gross gen­er­al­isa­tion. What of the many intel­li­gent people who ded­ic­ate their lives to help­ing those less for­tunte?
  5. Meistro

    I real­ize this is quite a dated art­icle in inter­net terms, but as it seems some­body else has com­men­ted recently I figured it wouldn’t be a total loss to get an opin­ion in here, even if it does agree with all of the already pub­lished ones… with the excep­tion of Moises up there…

    I am cur­rently in a high school AP Psy­cho­logy course and was linked to this site while doing an assign­ment for our intel­li­gence unit. I per­son­ally find this quite fas­cin­at­ing as I had actu­ally nev­er thought about a cor­rel­a­tion (caus­a­tion or oth­er­wise) between intelligence/IQ and a reli­gious pref­er­ence.

    This type of research is what had me inter­ested in psy­cho­logy and par­tic­u­larly socio-psy­cho­logy in the first place: that this kinda of study is being done relat­ing to two of the most import­ant aspects of the present human con­di­tion is just extremely inter­est­ing to me.

    I per­son­ally have no par­tic­u­lar reli­gious affil­i­ation at this point in my life, but being raised as a Unit­ari­an Uni­ver­sal­ist I have been well-edu­cated on many creeds from around the world- each with their own spe­cif­ic beliefs about reli­gion and spe­cific­ally about whatever high­er deity they deem as their “God.” I have nev­er thought that this or any oth­er edu­ca­tion has con­sciously increased the like­li­hood that I would even­tu­ally not believe in a god, but I both agree and dis­agree with the state­ments provided by Mr. Skin­ner. (who is prob­ably much older and more versed than I am)

    Per­haps it is not neces­sar­ily the edu­ca­tion itself or even the meas­uredly high­er intel­li­gence that increases the like­li­hood of athe­ism… maybe it is merely a pre­dis­pos­i­tion towards believ­ing in *some­thing* that all humans are inher­ently born with and which “kicks in” after years of high­er edu­ca­tion in sci­ence and his­tory through a belief not in a god, but in the sci­ence itself?

    Maybe this is a stu­pid thing to com­ment about, I don’t really know. I guess I just wanted to share my opin­ion.

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